DNC AAPI Caucus: Small Business Edition

2016 Democratic National Convention

Just before this morning’s DNC AAPI caucus, both the main one and its small business follow-up, the first of which which we live-blogged earlier, Hillary’s campaign released this excellent plan which does the research and policy work that no non-professional wants to do.

Before I summarize that material, however, I discuss why the small business panel is important, why it’s not just some ignoreable meeting for party insiders. So much anger and Drumpfing is thanks to anger at everything: at the so-called rigged economy (possibly the only thing the 3 remaining candidates all said verbatim), the everything is wrong (see Christie’s speech for a great example of how to blame everything on Hillary ignoring how many problems came from the GOP President Bush 43, but proportionate blame isn’t a Drumpf sales tactic and his voters don’t want it either). Credible good governance requires the traditional good things: good research, all voices heard, good political operation to figure out the sentiment of the people and what votes are realistic and then a well-administered vote in Congress to make the legislation. Of course, this is just at the federal level and I’d say good laws/policies must be made at all levels of government, but let’s focus on the federal just for this post.

Now, for the meat: AAPI small businesses. AAPI political force went from some remote mere idea to an actually organized, networked, and motivated force active in all levels of politics and actively shaping the nation’s laws and direction in all ways (political but also its many arms like boardrooms, councils, think tanks, etc.). Voices include our endorsed candidates and CAPAC members. That said, use that force to help our community’s small businesses because

  • AAPI biz’s grew by 24% 2007 to 2012. Use our political force to not just level the playing field for AAPI small business owners by cutting red tape, accessing capital, relieving taxes, and reducing financing discrimination but also letting AAPIs do all the entrepreneurship they want to. Each pain point is itself a really big goal with tons of organizing and organizations required, but, hey, that’s life.
  • AAPI women earn 86% of white males all things equal, even so for some AAPI demographics (they’re humans not demogrpahics, but I’ve not a more humane term). As the convention theme today of breaking barriers goes, use our political force to break barriers to AAPI female pay equity. #talkpay is a good start.
  • Half of AAPIs graduate from college with debt, over $20,000 for the usual 4-year graduate. Use our political force to enable properly discriminated refinancing (a vastly complex notion, requires some finance details we won’t graze here) and promote the idea/policy of income-based repayment which is possibly too novel for the greedy finance industry which changes very slowly despite that hurting its profitability.
  • Asians are 11% of the 11M undocumented immigrants in this country and 40% of the USCIS backlog. Use our political force for Comprehensive Immigration Reform which almost passed years ago with bipartisan agreement literally just before Sandy Hook took over.

Thanks to the leadership and commitment from a wide tapestry of voices ranging from Sikh Americans to Pacific Islanders – the 2016 campaign is underscoring how Asian Americans are working together to not only seek common ground, but higher ground. Over the past few decades, we’ve worked together to increase the number of voters, candidates, and organizers shaping the direction of our country – but not until now have we seen an inclusive and ambitious platform that will shape not just the identity of the AAPI footprint in national politics, but one that will ensure that we stand up for the rights and opportunities of all of those around. That only happens if we stand up together and stand stronger together.

DNC AAPI Chair Bel Leong-Hong (and a AAAFund Board Member)

2016 DNCC Platform for AAPIs

Yesterday, the Democratic National Convention issued a draft of the 2016 Democratic Party Platform (Draft). We quote the sections relevant to the AAPI community so you can tell your elected officials which helps our goal of increasing AAPI progressive political involvement.

draft watermark repeating

DNC Draft Platform

Create Good-Paying Jobs

Youth Jobs

Democrats will create millions of jobs for our young people. Roughly one in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 is unemployed, more than twice the national average. The unemployment rates for African American, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), and American Indian teenagers are far too high. That is why Democrats will provide direct federal funding for a range of local programs that will put young people to work and create new career opportunities.

Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Create Ladders of Opportunity

Racial Wealth Gap

America’s economic inequality problem is even more pronounced when it comes to racial and ethnic disparities in wealth and income. It is unacceptable that the median wealth for white Americans is roughly ten times that of African Americans and Latino Americans. These disparities are just as stark for American Indians and certain Asian American subgroups. The racial and ethnic gap in wealth and income has been created by historical and contemporary policies and practices that discriminate against people of color and constrained their ability to earn income and build assets to the same extent as other Americans.

This economic disadvantage has accumulated over time and is made worse by ongoing discrimination. For example, as a result of the housing crisis and the great recession, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans lost more than half of their net worth. And these losses were compounded by the fact that during the subprime mortgage crisis lenders targeted communities of color for faulty mortgages.

Democrats believe it is long past time to close this racial wealth gap by eliminating systemic barriers to wealth accumulation for different racial groups and improving opportunities for people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to build wealth.

Criminal Justice

Democrats are committed to reforming our criminal justice system and ending mass incarceration. Something is profoundly wrong when a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though we have less than five percent of the world’s people. We will reform mandatory minimum sentences and close private prisons and detention centers. We will rebuild the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Across the country, there are many police officers who inspire trust and confidence, deploying creative and effective strategies, and demonstrating that it is possible to reduce crime without relying on unnecessary force. We should learn from those examples and build on what works.

We will invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the appropriate use of force, and encourage better police-community relations and the use of smart strategies like police body cameras. We will end racial profiling that targets individuals, based solely on race, religion, ethnicity, and national origin, which is un-American and counterproductive. We support states and localities that choose to make the investigations and prosecutions of police-involved shootings more independent and transparent, including through reforming the grand jury process. And we will explore reforms of the civil asset forfeiture system. Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to provide greater investment in jobs and education, and end to the school-to-prison pipeline. We will remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by banning the box, expanding reentry programs, and restoring voting rights. We will prioritize treatment over incarceration in tackling addiction and substance use disorder. This means significantly expanding treatment in this country for people struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

We have been inspired by the movements for criminal justice that directly address the discriminatory treatment of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians to rebuild trust in the criminal justice system.

Provide Quality and Affordable Education

Minority-Serving Institutions

We will strengthen our nation’s public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions by providing a dedicated fund of tens of billions of dollars to keep costs down, provide a quality education, and provide dedicated support to improve student outcomes and completion rates. These schools play an important role in building opportunity and creating a diverse workforce.

Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans

Democrats believe that it is not right that your zip code or census tract is a predictor of your health, which is why we will make health equity a central part of our commitment to revitalizing communities left behind. Democrats believe that all health care services should be culturally and linguistically appropriate. And we should disaggregate data collection for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders because data disaggregation is a necessary step in fully understanding the needs of the AAPI community for all government services.


Immigration is not a problem to be solved, it is a defining aspect of the American character and history. We must defend against those who would exclude or eliminate legal immigration avenues and denigrate immigrants.

Foreign Affairs


From the Asia Pacific to the Indian Ocean, we will deepen our alliances in the region with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand.

Beyond the Model Minority Myth: Investing in AAPI community

Editor’s Note: This has been cross-posted from the Department of Housing and Urban Development blog.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are now the fastest growing racial group in the country, expected to more than double from 20 million to 47 million by 2060. With this tremendous growth comes the need to better understand and address issues of social equity and overall community well-being within this diverse community.

Population by race and Hispanic origin

As you may know, AAPIs face the model minority myth – the notion that virtually all are well-educated, affluent, and self-sufficient. In reality, the AAPI community is not a monolithic group and each group faces unique challenges. One out of three AAPIs does not speak English fluently. Certain subgroups have low levels of educational attainment and high levels of unemployment. For example, 40 percent of Hmong Americans do not complete high school, and Pacific Islanders have among the highest unemployment rates of all racial and ethnic groups. And we cannot ignore the fact that more than two million AAPIs, representing over two dozen subgroups, live in poverty.

Underinvestment in AAPI communities has remained persistent, with philanthropic investments staying at around 0.3% for the past quarter century and ongoing barriers to accessing government funding. By aligning investments, we can better work to improve the well-being of underserved AAPI communities.

It is clear that we must develop and implement more effective methods in assisting and investing in AAPI communities. Recent data disaggregation efforts by the U.S. Department of Labor have provided deeper insight into how poverty, unemployment, and housing affect AAPIs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development identified several areas for further disaggregation of AAPI data, including the American Housing Survey, which is conducted biennially and will now include the collection of Asian subgroup data in 2015 for the first time in its history. The Annual Homelessness Assessment Report will now break out “Asian” and “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” populations. In light of this progress, however, there is a significant opportunity to do more.

Today, we have the privilege of joining a historic event at the White House to better align investments to low-income AAPI communities. Hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, in partnership with Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), the Public-Private Partnership Summit on Issues Facing Low-Income AAPI Communities will convene philanthropic, community, and government leaders to take a deeper look at how public, private, and community partnerships can address AAPI needs.

Since the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has prioritized public-private partnerships and social innovation, with the belief that both government and private resources are needed to create social change. This is evident in the fact that today’s Summit builds upon the first-ever National Philanthropic Briefing on AAPIs at the White House in 2012. As a result of the briefing, the Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Kresge Foundation together made a commitment of $1 million, the first-of-its-kind coordinated public and philanthropic investment in the AAPI community.

We have made great strides over the years in public and private commitments that are beginning to address the critical issues faced by low-income AAPI communities. Earlier last year, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, “Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors,” which will raise the minimum wage for all workers on federal construction and service contracts beginning January 2016. This is an important step toward fulfilling the belief that all Americans, including AAPIs, who work full-time jobs should not live in poverty. And the third and final round of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Promise Zones competition recently opened, where federal, state, and local agencies will partner with leaders in vulnerable communities to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, and enhance public health, among other priorities. A current Promise Zone in Los Angeles, CA prioritizes communities in Hollywood, East Hollywood, Koreatown, Pico Union, and Westlake, which have high AAPI populations. To read more about these commitments, the White House Initiative on AAPIs has released a fact sheet today.

We seek to continue our commitment to the AAPI community by recognizing both the progress we have made and the work that still needs to be done. It is an exciting time for all of us, and we hope to renew our pledge to the AAPI community and produce innovative, cross-sector, and multidimensional solutions for effective change.

Nani Coloretti is Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Chris Lu is Deputy Secretary of Labor.

Rep. Ted Lieu on American contributions

California Congressman Ted Lieu (a longtime AAA Fund endorsee), tore into someone who testified to Congress and denigrated the contributions of people with less than 10th grade educations. Rep. Lieu talks about the contributions and sacrifices that people like Maria Isabel Jimenez, a 17 year old farmworker, make. Rep. Lieu noted that she died so “you and I can have less expensive orange juice,” and that she’s given far more to society than you or I ever will.”

Rep. Lieu is a veteran and former JAG officer who was voted Democratic Freshman Class President of the House. Lieu replaced the iconic Congressman Henry Waxman, who decided not to seek re-election. Also, if you watch it from the beginning, Lieu gets very technical about the economic benefits of DACA and DAPA and he gets into the nitty gritty of how much net benefit immigrants in these categories bring in via Social Security taxes.

By the way, a number of my family members, including my grandma, lack more than a 10th grade education. Some of them fled the Cultural Revolution but succeeded in raising sons and daughters who contribute to this country.



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